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Monday, September 22, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 67.0° F  A Few Clouds
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Madison musicians gather for benefits to support free speech, Cliff Frederiksen
Frederiksen: "So far the prognosis is good."
Frederiksen: "So far the prognosis is good."
Credit:Richard Hanson

Music fans can spend Sunday, Feb. 12 fighting two scourges: prostate cancer and the nickel-and-diming of the First Amendment.

Both Forward! For The First Amendment at the East Side Club (4:30-10 p.m.) and a benefit for Cliff Frederiksen at the Brink Lounge (5 p.m.) feature impressive lineups. The first event includes a rare Madison performance by Richard Davis, the legendary bass player and University of Wisconsin professor. The second had more than a dozen musicians on the bill when an announcement first went out; then more signed on, and the schedule now ranges from multifaceted guitarist Louka Patenaude to grizzled electric-blues player Paul Filipowicz.

Frederiksen, 67, says he was diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago. It has derailed his business playing regular gigs as a guitarist and vocalist all over southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Medicare has entered the picture and helped a little, but it's another frightening story of a musician without health coverage -- combined with one of the most common and fatal cancers among men.

"I didn't have any insurance three years ago, and a benefit held for me then paid for, essentially, the diagnosis," Frederiksen says in an email. "At first I was told that I should have the prostate removed, but when I disclosed that I didn't have any insurance, [my doctors] suggested 'watchful waiting.'"

Frederiksen had surgery in January: "The care was excellent, and so far the prognosis is good." In fact, he says he's waiting to find out this week whether the cancer is gone. But even if the news is favorable, the need remains. He's been limiting his work to a Wednesday night gig at Liliana's in Fitchburg and a twice-monthly one at Samba, plus guitar lessons.

Frederiksen is taking donations. Make checks out to Cliff Frederiksen Savings Account and mail them to UW Credit Union, 3750 University Ave., Madison, WI, 53705.

Sunday's other big benefit features well more than a group of four. Musicians will gather at the East Side Club to raise money for possible litigation by the ACLU, the National Lawyers Guild and other lawyers in the name of First Amendment rights -- on behalf of Occupy Madison, for example, or against the Scott Walker administration's response to protests at the Capitol. The lineup boasts not just Davis but also Charlie Brooks, Ken Lonnquist and VO5, with speeches by state Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) and The Progressive editor Matt Rothschild.

Davis will play not long after the program begins. "He is 82 now, and so I wanted to accommodate him playing earlier," says co-organizer Deborah Mulligan, an attorney.

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